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Summary of broadband development in Spain
Spain’s national broadband strategy supports the goals related to broadband coverage set by the European Union in the Digital Agenda for Europe (DAE). Spain is working on removing regulatory and administrative barriers and ensuring a dynamic and flexible use of spectrum to promote the deployment of ultra-fast broadband networks. Actions are taken to support public-private cooperations and joint and venture capital investments. In line with the EU 5G Action Plan, Spain has published a 5G National Plan 2018-2020 and has already started its implementation. The fibre optic network deployed in Spain is the widest in Europe with more than 33.3 million access points, covering more than 75% of the population; 4G coverage is over 95%.
National broadband strategy and policy
- The Secretary of State for Digital Progress (Secretaría de Estado para el Avance Digital, SEAD) as part of the Ministry of Economy and Business (Ministerio de Economia y Empresa) is responsible for the momentum and coordination of plans, technological programmes and actions for connectivity and digital transformation of Spain. It incorporates public policies in telecommunications and the information society, and leads the political action for strengthening the ecosystem of digital ventures.
- The Comisión Nacional de los Mercados y la Competencia acts as a national regulatory authority ensuring free competition and regulates all markets and productive sectors of the Spanish economy to protect consumers.
Main aims for broadband development
One of the goals of the Digital Agenda for Spain is to foster the deployment of networks and services by setting up a regulatory framework that guarantees certainty and prevents the introduction of unnecessary barriers.
It also provides strategies to deploy ultra-fast networks and provide an efficient radio spectrum management. The Digital Agenda proposes mechanisms for improving the experience of broadband service users, increasing the demand of digital services and promoting the production and distribution of digital content over the Internet. The objectives of the Agenda are to reach a 100% coverage of 30 Mbps and 50% take up of 100 Mbps and more of households by 2020.
The Digital Agenda for Spain contains 9 specific plans, including a plan dedicated to Telecommunications and Ultra‐fast Networks. This plan contains measures to:
- foster ultra-fast fixed access networks (regulatory measures to reduce roll-out cost, better use of existing infrastructure, public-private cooperation in deployment, and coordination with other administrations),
- foster ultra-fast mobile access networks (accelerating 4G deployment thanks to new spectrum, simplifying roll out requirements and universal access to ultrafast mobile broadband -30 Mbps- in centres with less than 5000 inhabitants) and
- support take-up.
The 2014 Spanish Telecoms Law and other sectorial regulations seek to reduce regulatory and administrative barriers resulting in a more favourable environment for investments in ultra-fast networks.
Spain follows a technology neutral approach as benefits of using the full range of technologies can be seen in rural areas. Particularly in those areas in which deployments by private companies are limited (such as rural, remote or dispersed areas), the strategy addresses the use of support and public‐private cooperation mechanisms.
In 2013, the Spanish government established the PEBA-NGA State Aid scheme, through which subsidies are granted to telecommunications operators to increase the pace of deployment and coverage of Next Generation Access (NGA) networks in underserved areas.
Spain aims to introduce the new 5G technology by 2020 (5G National Plan 2018-2020) and is currently supporting the adoption of standards, identifying practical use cases and the development of the relevant ecosystems. Amongst the pillars for a successful implementation of 5G plan measures are:
- Radio spectrum management and planning;
- Network and service pilot projects and R&D&I activities;
- Regulatory issues required to provide a flexible legal framework;
- 5G plan coordination and international cooperation;
For this purpose, some measures included in the plan have already been implemented:
- a call for the development of two 5G pilots funded with EUR 20 million has been published;
- the process for the full licensing of the 3.5GHz band has already started with the publication for comments of a spectrum cap proposal – it is expected that the auction for the 3.6-3.8 GHZ will be finished by mid-2018 (the band 3.4-3.6 GHZ has already been assigned).
The Spanish government is working on take-up measures addressed to rural and remote places where users may have to face higher upfront costs for high-speed broadband services. Such take-up measures are based on grants allocated to end users, in order to provide access services through any broadband technology capable of reaching 30 Mbps.
At the regional level, various regions (Comunidades Autónomas - CCAA) have developed their own projects, programmes and strategies for overall digital development and broadband rollout e.g. Galicia, Valencia, Basque Country, Aragón, Andalusia, Catalonia or Castilla y León. These initiatives rely on their own financial resources, private sector investments as well as on European funds.
National and regional broadband financial instruments
- The Digital Agenda for Spain addresses an EUR 200 million programme to extend next-generation broadband, which will provide financial support to bring at least 100 Mbps connectivity to small and medium-sized municipalities in white areas and improve backhaul and access networks providing at least 30 Mbps connectivity in other white areas.
- The funding program PEBA-NGA 2019-2021 (first call published in April 2019) was designed to bridge the digital divide as far as basic broadband was concerned and to build NGA facilities in areas where private investment alone is not sufficient. The purpose of the state aid scheme PEBA-NGA is to bring NGA broadband connectivity in areas where current networks are unable to satisfy the connectivity needs of citizens and businesses.
- The Secretary of State for Information Society and Digital Agenda plans to dedicate EUR 277 million to develop actions co-financed by the ERDF under the Operational Programme 2014-2020 Smart Growth.
Data on broadband development and technologies in Spain
For the latest data on broadband coverage, subscriptions and penetrations, coverage of different broadband technologies and costs, check the scoreboard reports and the country reports of the Digital Economy & Society Index (DESI).
Spectrum assignments for wireless broadband
For details on harmonised spectrum assignments consult the study on Spectrum assignments in the EU.
Publications and press documents
- Digital Agenda for Spain
- 5G National Plan 2018-2020
- National Broadband Plan 2013
- Study on National Broadband Plans in the EU-28
- Guide to High-Speed Broadband Investment
- Broadband Connectivity Reports and Analyses
- Europe's Digital Progress Report 2017
- Fixed broadband prices in Europe 2018
- Study on broadband coverage in Europe 2017